Today in Islamophobia

A daily list of headlines about Islamophobia
compiled by the Bridge Initiative

Each day, the Bridge Initiative aims to bring you the news you need to know about Islamophobia. This resource will be updated every weekday at approximately 11:00 AM EST.

Today in Islamophobia Newsletter

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14 Jul 2022

Today in Islamophobia: In France, an academic finds that “roughly half of the 69,000 people incarcerated today in France are Muslims of Arab descent” even though Muslims make up just 9% of the country’s population, meanwhile in India, the Supreme Court refused to pass a blanket order banning demolitions across states, which Muslim organizations say are being used to target members of the minority community, and in the United States, Representative Lauren Boebert is renewing her Islamophobic attacks against Rep. Ilhan Omar, calling her a “terrorist sympathizer,” and questioning why the Muslim congresswoman is allowed to wear a hijab. Our recommended read of the day is by Josiah Mortimer for MyLondon on the concerns being raised by anti-racism groups regarding the impartiality of the new commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Mark Rowley, given his past comments on Islam and Islamophobia, and connections to right-wing think tanks. This and more below:

United Kingdom

14 Jul 2022

New Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley slammed by Muslim groups after saying Islamophobia was 'not racism' | Recommended Read

Anti-racism groups have raised concerns over the impartiality of the new commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Mark Rowley, as previous comments on Islam resurfaced before he takes up his role. In 2019, Sir Mark responded to the Christchurch far-right terror attack in New Zealand - which saw 50 Muslims murdered and 48 seriously injured - by saying that while Islamophobia was real and on the rise, it did not constitute racism, and conflating the two was “clumsy thinking”. Concerns had been raised in the force that adopting a leading definition of Islamophobia could hurt free speech, a Freedom of Information request revealed. In 2018, Sir Mark Rowley also gave a speech to the Conservative-linked think tank Policy Exchange hitting out at some Muslim anti-hate groups, saying: “We continue to see and hear so-called representative bodies speak out in such a way to create and exploit grievances and isolation.” The think tank has been described by The Daily Telegraph as "the largest…most influential think tank on the right". In his speech, Sir Mark - then the UK’s top counter-terrorism police official - criticised anti-Islamophobia group MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development), saying: “Leaders of MEND have claimed the UK is approaching the conditions that preceded the Holocaust seeking to undermine the State’s considerable efforts to tackle all hate crime and making an absurd comparison with state-sponsored genocide.” He defended the Home Office’s anti-extremism Prevent programme, which in 2017 was accused by a European watchdog of jeopardising efforts to promote integration in Britain, by "fomenting fear and resentment" among Muslims in particular. Policy Exchange promoted the speech as an effort to “call out…so-called representative Muslim bodies such as CAGE and MEND for fostering grievances and isolation” - in an address that drew comparisons to the groups with the far-right organisation Britain First. In his speech, Sir Mark commended William Shawcross, a former director of the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society, who once said: "Europe and Islam is one of the greatest, most terrifying problems of our future.” At the time, columnist Peter Oborne wrote that Sir Mark “took leave of his senses when he agreed to deliver a speech to the think tank Policy Exchange…It’s always wrong for serving police officers to get involved at this level in public policy.” In the same year it was reported that then Assistant Commissioner Rowley met officials from the conservative Henry Jackson Society (HJS), after agreeing to endorse a report on Islamist terrorism by the controversial think tank, Middle East Eye revealed. read the complete article


14 Jul 2022

Five Muslim-centred shows to binge after finishing Ms. Marvel

Remember those days when a Muslim character would come on the television, and you would yell for your family so they could see? And then you’d all inevitably be disappointed when it turned out the character was a terrorist/didn’t say a word/was an offensive stereotype? Well, go and yell for your family, because Muslim representation has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, and disappointment is a thing of the past. Ok, not the distant past, but I promise, there is good representation out there. Disney+’s newest Marvel series, Ms. Marvel, gave us our first Muslim superhero this year, and she headlined her show in style. From Islam being a part of her everyday life in both subtle and overt ways to showing us a character who wasn’t a bundle of stereotypes, Kamala Khan was a refreshing addition to our screens. But if you’re worrying that finishing the show’s six episodes means you’ll be left waiting indefinitely for the next great Muslim character, stop. A number of recent television shows have given us “good” Muslim representation: characters who are rounded and show us that faith doesn’t come in one size fits all. Here are five television shows with excellent Muslim characters to add to your watch list. read the complete article

14 Jul 2022

Covid-19 And The Rohingya: Hunger, exploitation, hate crimes and xenophobia

"We are the same human being like you and need the same basic rights which you enjoy. Please don't hate us. We don't want to be a burden. Allow us to study and work, and stand by us. We will surely return home." This was the ardent appeal of Sharifah Shakirah, who fled to Malaysia from Buthidaung township in Myanmar at the age of six. The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the lives and livelihoods of people all over the world. It has disproportionately harmed the marginalised—refugees, asylum seekers and the stateless people. The Rohingya survivors of Myanmar's genocide are no exception. Rohingyas living in Burma are being subjected to state sponsored stigmatisation after the outbreak of Covid-19. Although so far one Rohingya and two Rakhines have been infected, the local authorities and the media are engaged in a hate campaign against the Rohingya, claiming "Bengalis", the slur word for Rohingya, have entered Myanmar illegally and have brought coronavirus with them. This has resulted in a sharp increase in hate speech against the Rohingya on Burmese social media. The conditions of the Rohingyas in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Burma are particularly dire. With a plethora of discriminatory restrictions, famine like conditions prevail in northern Rakhine. In violation of the explicit order of the International Court of Justice to protect the Rohingya, the Burmese government continues to pursue its genocidal policies against them, causing internal displacement of thousands. Many more are forced to flee to Bangladesh and the other countries of south-east Asia. There are more than one million Rohingya in Bangladesh, 300,000 in Saudi Arabia, 150,000 in Malaysia, 30,000 in India and tens of thousands more scattered across the world. The refugee camps have very rudimentary facilities and are almost never well resourced. read the complete article

14 Jul 2022

Under the Mulberry Tree: Young Uyghur exiles evoke memory through poetry

Twenty-something Aykezar Adil who wrote these lines can barely remember the Uyghur homeland or her grandmother's face. Now living in the USA, she fled when she was five with her parents who were escaping Chinese government persecution, and in common with most of her compatriots, all links with their families have now been severed amid the turmoil and clampdowns of recent years. Few can or would dare return to the land they fear has been lost to them forever. But an unquenchable fire for their land still burns within them; a yearning for a world that has gone but has somehow embedded itself deep in their soul. How to satisfy that ethereal longing and to keep those memories alive has been the raisin d’être of Under the Mulberry Tree, an anthology of art and verse, prose and muse by young Uyghur exiles to give vent not only to their melancholy but to a determination to savour the unique creativity and rich culture of their people. As a collaboration between the Tarim Network, the Jewish human rights group, René Cassin, and Moishe House, the collection is a creative reflection of the beauty and complexities of the Uyghur experience as lived by those scattered to the four winds because of persecution in their homeland. As culture, language, and literature is being dismantled in East Turkestan, their hope is to stir up a living memory at this pivotal moment of Uyghur history. read the complete article

14 Jul 2022

How Ms. Marvel Took On One of History’s Darkest Episodes

Despite some initial anti-“woke” review-bombing and lower ratings compared with similar shows, Ms. Marvel has become one of Disney’s most acclaimed and exciting releases in years, as well as the first major Western screen depiction of a female South Asian Muslim superhero. As part of the very Marvel Cinematic Universe with movie tie-in plans for next year, Ms. Marvel is not going away anytime soon, to the delight of its gratified fan base. Viewers of all ages have praised the show, based on a popular comic book series that debuted in 2014, for its detailed, nuanced, unabashedly positive depiction of Muslim American communities: the family dynamics, the clothing, the music, the weddings, the mosques (and their unfortunate law enforcement surveillance). It’s a meaningful transition from decades of villainous depictions of Muslims, many of which were promulgated by the Marvel Cinematic Universe itself. What’s more, the show has also struck viewers and critics for the way it delves into a historical topic little-known to typical American audiences: the trauma of the 1947 India-Pakistan Partition, and its still-potent impact. read the complete article


14 Jul 2022

India: Hindu extremists are stoking a wave of Islamophobic sentiment across the country

We take you to India, where anti-Muslim campaigns are on the rise in recent days. Some Hindu fundamentalists have even publicly called for the genocide of Muslims. Critics blame Prime Minister Narendra Modi for tacitly encouraging these attacks on Muslims by failing to condemn the increasing violence against this minority community. read the complete article

14 Jul 2022

No Pause On Demolitions, Supreme Court Refuses Blanket Ban

The Supreme Court today refused to pass a blanket order banning demolitions across states, stressing that such a move will curtail the rights of municipal authorities. The court is hearing a petition by Muslim body Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind against demolition exercises that, it has alleged, specifically targeted members of the minority community. The Supreme Court had issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government in this connection. In its reply to the court, the state government has maintained that the demolition drives were routine exercises to remove encroachment. The court has now sought the replies of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat governments where recent demolitions have drawn criticism. The petitioner said "taking advantage" of municipal corporations to demolish homes is not right. The petitioner's counsel also said there is a "pattern of demolitions" across the country "after every communal incident". "This is against the structure of democracy, not good for us as a society," they said. read the complete article

14 Jul 2022

After ‘Boycott Muslims’ Call Comes VHP Threat of Killings, ‘Will Repeat Gujarat if Situation Demands’

Just a week before Eid, more than 300 Hindutva activists – including members of the Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other organisations – attended a ‘mahapanchayat’ to protest the gruesome murder of a Hindu tailor, Kanhaiya Lal, in Rajasthan’s Udaipur by two Muslim assailants. At the event, there were calls to boycott Muslims and ‘if need be’ to pick up weapons against them. Manesar is a part of the National Capital Region, around 50 km from New Delhi, and an important hub of the Indian automotive industry. The call to boycott Muslim shopkeepers and vendors was reported in the national media. While many saw the Manesar meeting as a random expression of intolerance, its connection to the wider arc of Hindutva mobilisation in which online mobilisation links up to ‘offline’ events remained hidden. One of the trending Twitter hashtags in the days leading up to the ‘mahapanchayat’ was #TotalBoycott. Though the call was in open violation of Section 153 A and B of the Indian Penal Code, the fact that an organised push could be made to trend that hashtag on social media is symptomatic of the impunity enjoyed by its sponsors. The Wire spoke to the three Hindutva leaders who organised the Manesar panchayat about their wider agenda. read the complete article

United States

14 Jul 2022

Lauren Boebert calls Rep. Ilhan Omar a 'terrorist sympathizer,' doubling down on attacking her Muslim colleague in a new memoir

Still feeling spurned after an initial apology was rejected, GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado rekindles her feud with Rep. Ilhan Omar in a new memoir by calling the Minnesota Democrat a "terrorist sympathizer" who "consistently spewed anti-American and anti-Jewish rhetoric." In a chapter titled "Keep the Faith, Keep Up the Fight," Boebert attacks Omar — and, by extension, Democrats who consider the deadly attack on the US Capitol newsworthy. "Leftists will compare January 6 to 9/11 but look the other way when a domestic terror group like Antifa sets fire to cities like Portland, Seattle, or Minneapolis. In fact, Minneapolis's own congressional representative not only doesn't speak out against terrorism; she condones it," Boebert writes, adding that Omar "has long been a terrorist sympathizer, which she's made clear repeatedly with outlandish comments and vitriolic, bigoted posts on Twitter." Omar's office did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. The Democrat has previously accused Boebert of having "a clear pattern for Islamophobic hate speech." Boebert amps up the vitriol by referring to Omar by her full name, Ilhan Abdullahi Omar — a move reminiscent of Republicans' play to terrify their base by demonizing President Barack emphasis-on-Hussein Obama. Omar, who moved to the US as a child refugee after she and her family fled Somalia's civil war, became one of the two first Muslim women ever elected to Congress along with Rep. Rashida Tlaib in 2018. Boebert has repeatedly attacked both Omar and Tlaib, calling her two colleagues "black-hearted evil women" and calling Omar a member of the "jihad squad." read the complete article

14 Jul 2022

Ilhan Omar expertly responds to Lauren Boebert’s anti-hijab comment

Rep Ilhan Omar offered an expert response to Lauren Boebert questioning why the congresswoman is allowed to wear a hijab given the separation of church and state in the US Constitution. Appearing on Steve Bannon’s War Room show on Wednesday, the Colorado representative said: “If there really is this separation of church and state like they believe it means, then what is Ilhan doing with her hijab on?” Mangling the pronunciation of hijab, Ms Boebert went on to say: “Why is she able to go in there with that?” In response to the comment, which subsequently went viral in a clip posted on Twitter critics slammed Ms Boebert for misunderstanding the “basic concept of separation of church and state” on social media. Ms Omar also weighed in and responded to Ms Boebert with a Gordon Ramsay meme featuring the chef forcing another chef to call herself “idiot sandwich.” Essentially, Ms Omar described Ms Boebert as an “idiot sandwich”. read the complete article


14 Jul 2022

Cannabis prohibition in France over the past 50 years has disproportionately punished its Muslim minority

In recent years, France has come closer to ending its national prohibition of cannabis, which has been in place since 1970. The rise of “CBD cafés,” the growing public calls for an end to drug prohibition and an ongoing medical marijuana pilot program signal that, in the near future, France – the European Union’s leading cannabis-consuming member state – may legalize cannabis. But as a scholar of the centuries-old links between cannabis and colonialism, I know that the movement to legalize the drug has largely ignored the groups most impacted by France’s historical war on drugs, which, as in the U.S., has disproportionately targeted ethnic and religious minorities. Evidence suggests that cannabis prohibition over the past 50 years has disproportionately punished France’s Muslim minority. About one-fifth of current French prisoners were convicted for drug offenses, according to the French Ministry of Justice – a rate comparable to that of the United States. Nearly all of them are men. There is no demographic breakdown of this population, because the French credo of “absolute equality” among citizens has made it illegal since 1978 to collect statistics based on race, ethnicity or religion. But sociologist Farhad Khosrokhavar, who studies France’s prison system, has found that roughly half of the 69,000 people incarcerated today in France are Muslims of Arab descent. Muslims make up just 9% of France’s 67 million people. According to a January 2018 study commissioned by the French National Assembly, of the 117,421 arrests for drugs in France in 2010, 86% involved cannabis. Cannabis arrests are rising quickly, too. The same study reported that the number of people arrested annually for “simple use” of cannabis in France increased tenfold between 2000 and 2015, from 14,501 to 139,683. Taken together, this and other data suggests that up to 1 in 6 prisoners in France today may be an Arab Muslim man who used, possessed or sold cannabis. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 14 Jul 2022 Edition


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